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Yes, We Get the Irony

I’m not going to lie: As well as the Internet has served our far-flung Network, I sometimes think – or, more accurately, daydream – about taking us offline entirely. I fantasize more about the Network championing the analog virtues of reverie and contemplation than I do about windfall donations or in-perpetuity grants.

(I might shouldn’t have written that here, where the board can read it.)

So you can imagine how charmed I was a year or two ago, when Analog Sea first contacted me.

Nope, their link isn’t broken, and I didn’t forget to add it. They have no link. They have no website. They are, by their own definition, “a small community of writers and artists wishing to maintain contemplative life in the digital age. We publish hardbound printed books and a literary journal, The Analog Sea Review.”

They also print and distribute a free Analog Sea Bulletin, with brief features and snippets from their next Review, which is how they introduced themselves to me.

“Advocating for the human right to disconnect,” they write in their “Editorial Vision,” “we celebrate offline culture and the work artists create in solitude, that vital stretch of time when distraction fades and deep wells of thought and feeling emerge.”

The Network exists to help alleviate that solitude, but we do not deny its desirability, even necessity, for most-if-not-all writers. At our conferences and on our website, writers can learn, refine, connect. You can promote your work, seek and find publication or representation for your work, get inspiration or encouragement for your work.

You cannot work, though. You cannot do the grunt work, the dreamy work, of writing.

Analog Sea’s books and Review are available at more than 190 bookstores throughout North America and Europe, or you can contact them at –

Analog Sea
PO Box 11670
Austin, TX 78711

(They do have an e-mail address, but I’m not going to give it to you.)

They’re also looking for contributors. You will find their call for submission in the (members-only) Opportunities section of, but I’ve pasted it below, as well.

Once again, I’m not going to lie: I’ve been finding my attention span shorter and less durable than it used to be. That’s on me, not the Internet – which, after all, is only a tool, and often a miraculously useful one – but our online-all-the-time culture doesn’t help. My job as a writer, and as a reader, and as a human being, is to strike the proper balance between connectivity (which is not connection) and contemplation, between information and and reverie.

I know the Network’s not going offline. My daydreams will stay only that. I only need to carve out more time for daydreams.


The Analog Sea Review: Call for Submission

The Analog Sea Review is an offline journal distributed to independent bookstores throughout Europe and North America. We are interested in hearing from writers and artists who find ways to maintain contemplation and focus in the digital age. Please send us your stories and poems as well as any essays exploring this emerging field of offline culture. We also welcome submissions from visual artists for our cover artwork and select interior pages.

Currently, we pay from 50 to 200 EUR/USD for one-time rights which revert back to the author upon publication. Please mail your typed, printed submission (8,000 words or fewer) to Analog Sea at [the] address below. Include a very brief biographical statement along with a self-address stamped envelope if you would like us to return your submission. Artists, please send only photographic reproductions of your work and not originals.

If you are interested in Analog Sea and would like to receive future copies of our free bulletin, even if you have nothing to submit at this time, please do send us a letter.

PO Box 11670
Austin, TX 78711

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NCAC Names New Director

On May 13*, our friends at the North Carolina Arts Council announced that Jeff Bell would be their next director.

Bell comes to Jones Street from Wilson, where he was the executive director of the Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park and Museum and Arts Innovation coordinator for the City of Wilson. He also has worked at the 21c Museum Hotel in Durham, CAM Raleigh, and the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University. Bell will start at the NCAC on June 13.

The NCAC also is welcoming Janelle Wienke as their Arts in Communities Director.

Please join the Network board and staff in welcoming Jeff and Janelle to the NCAC. We hope their tenures there are long and happy, and that they keep giving us money. We like that.


* In related news, the Network staff is shocked – shocked! – to discover that May 13 was two weeks ago, and that June begins next week. We’ve been busy.

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This Morning, This Place

For years, I logged in to start my Network day at 7 A.M. sharp.

Not since late last August, though, when my youngest started kindergarten. Since then I don’t log in until 7:30, 7:45, sometimes even 8—not until I’ve helped her get ready and seen her off to school.

That felt different this morning.

The child’s already been through one active-shooter lockdown. In her first full week of school, a teenager shot another teenager at the high school less than a mile from her elementary school. The shooter fled. The victim died. When my child got home she told me they “got to play hide-and-seek in the dark” while her teacher sat against the classroom door. She said the principal told them over the intercom that they were locking them inside to keep them safe. She thought he meant safe from the late-summer storms passing through that day.

Later today we’ll send, as we always do, the Weekly E-Blast, chock-full of information and opportunities and celebrations. That will feel different, too. I put it together yesterday, and I’m glad that I did. Today it would feel trivial.

I’m not going to write some platitude now about the need to bear witness, or about the urgency of writers’ work at such a time and in such a place as this. I’ll save my rage for my personal spaces, not this professional one. I don’t believe I’ll even try to make a point here, much less a moral.

I can’t even say for sure why I’m writing this, now, here. I don’t even know how it will end.

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How to Talk to a Bookseller: Then, Now, Forever

As a former bookseller and publisher who’s now married to a bookseller, I know a lot of stories about authors whose approach is, for lack of a better word, wrong.

I mean, really wrong. Completely wrong. Hilariously wrong. Infuriatingly wrong. So-wrong-they’d-be-less-wrong-if-they-never-even-tried wrong.

After one such story my wife remembered this piece by author (and former bookstore event coordinator) Melissa Lion, posted by the American Booksellers Association waaayyy back in 2007. Fifteen years and three days later, her 10 steps still apply:

They’re so good I’m just going to paste them down here for you, so you don’t even have to click a link:

  1. Don’t treat the bookseller like the help. The person behind the counter or on the floor is the most important person in the bookstore. The bookseller puts your book in customers’ hands, she puts your book on display, she writes a shelf-talker, and perhaps most importantly, stands in front of your book with a returns list that has your book on it and she decides if your book gets a stay of execution on the shelf, or if it heads off to remainderville. Remainderville, despite the cute name, is not a happy place for books.
  2. Take advantage of booksellers’ big mouths. There’s a reason publishers have “Big Mouth” lists — booksellers gossip. Booksellers meet other booksellers at various functions. At these functions three things happen — drinking, recommending books, and gossiping about authors. We will gossip about good things (“Khaled Hosseini smells amazing”) and bad things (“The author of [fill in the blank] shuffles his feet and treated me like the help”). You want to be on the good end of this gossip, so always smell nice and speak kindly to all the booksellers in the store. And pick up your feet when you walk.
  3. Ask for the appropriate person. Do not walk up to the counter and ask to speak with the manager or the owner. Customers with a problem want to speak to the owner or the manager. You want to speak with the book buyer if you want the store to carry your book. You want to speak with the events coordinator for booking an event.
  4. Use the correct person’s name. If you don’t know the name of the events coordinator, ask the person behind the counter. As for the book buyer, you want the person who buys your type of book. “What is the name of the person who buys the spirituality books?” Follow this up with, “What is the best way to get in touch with him?” Booksellers, book buyers, bookstore owners, and managers are very busy people. Respect that method of getting in touch.
  5. Do not leave a book in the bookstore that you wish to have back. Bookstores’ back rooms are filled with towers of books and dust bunnies the size of alpacas. There are moldering coffee cups and one aged bookseller reminiscing about the days when books-in-print was in book form. Your book winds up here. You will only get it back with a machete and a six-pack of PBR [Pabst Blue Ribbon]. You must be willing to let your book go.
  6. Be a customer at the store. If you would like a bookstore to carry your book, purchase a book there. Better yet, purchase a book the bookseller behind the counter recommends. Ask for that person’s name, go find a shelf-talker by that person, walk up to that person and ask to purchase that book. When she is ringing you up, begin (politely) to ask who the book buyer is. Perhaps you can purchase two books. If you can, please do so. The only way a store can carry your book is if they stay in business. The best way ensure this is to spend money at the actual store.
  7. If you are doing an event at the store, ask the audience to purchase your book. Say, “Please purchase my book.” Follow this up with, “If you don’t buy my book, this bookstore will think badly of me and they will not book me for an event again because they have lost money on my event because only about one-third of an audience buys a book and because the bookstore has spent money on advertising, used prime store placement space, spent hours on staffing, and will have to return the books you have not bought, at their expense.” No pressure, of course.
  8. Thank the booksellers. My agent has told me many times, “No matter where you find your book, it could be in the dustiest darkest corner, go to the booksellers and thank them for carrying your book.” She’s a wise woman.
  9. Never start a sentence with “You should.” As in “you should carry my book,” or “you should put my book on the front table despite my book being a tome on the African Diaspora and this table being a display of Chronicle stationery and Happy Bunny books.” As soon as you start this sentence, booksellers have a list of “you shoulds” that begin playing softly in their minds.
  10. Don’t treat the booksellers like the help. This might ring a bell. Bookselling is a labor of love. Chances are the person behind the counter is college graduate, he or she could be a chess wiz, a magician, a stand-up comedian, a nearly professional cello player, or a fellow author — all people I’ve worked with (except the author, that’s me). Booksellers do this job by choice. With the exception of a few CEO’s no one is getting rich selling books. Booksellers love books. They love books to their detriment, resulting in small savings accounts, a predilection toward cheap beer, and the risk of one day being buried in their own homes beneath an avalanche of galleys. Think of this person’s fate and then think of your book. This is who will take care of your baby. Be kind to that person, and your book will be loved and defended, often fiercely, like a six-pack of PBR.

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Charlotte Writers’ Club Celebrates a Century

The oldest NCWN member that I know of turned 99 earlier this year, which means that the Charlotte Writers’ Club not only is older than the Network, but older than any current Network member.

The Charlotte Writers’ Club turns 100 this year, a remarkable milestone for any literary organization. For context, when the Network started in 1985, the CWC already had been around for 63 years.

According to the centennial celebration page on their website, “Our founder, A L Kimball, sought out writers and writing ideas in 1922 with an eye to building a community of nurturing, encouragement, and education for local writers of all genres and skill levels.”

Kimball succeeded, and then some. The CWC says they now have about 300 members, most of them in the sprawling Charlotte Metro area but some “as far away as California.” They also have a branch for writers near Lake Norman, Charlotte Writers’ Club—North, co-founded by NCLHOF inductee Anthony Abbott.

Charlotte and its environs may be known by some as “the Great State of Mecklenburg,” accused of holding itself apart from the rest of the state, and known more for banking and NASCAR than writing, but the CWC has been a leader and a model for forming literary community and nurturing new writers. Writers who have spent significant time in Mecklenburg include Abbott and fellow NCLHOF inductees William LeGette Blythe and W. J. Cash, Carson McCullers (who wrote most of The Heart is a Lonely Hunter while living there), former NC Poets Laureate Joseph Bathanti and Cathy Smith Bowers, and (cough, cough) the instructors of this year’s Squire Summer Writing Workshops at Davidson College—Jack Jung, Cynthia Lewis, and Alan Michael Parker.

Please join us in wishing CWC a very happy 100th birthday, and hopes for another 100.

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Meet the Spring Conference Exhibitors – Part 2 of 2

Eariler this week, we introduced three exhibitors that will be on-site at the NCWN 2022 Spring Conference on Saturday, April 23. If you’ve already registered for the conference, thank you! If not, you can still register—but only until Monday, April 18!

Here are the other exhibitors that will join us on the campus of UNCG:

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Published since 1992 by East Carolina University and the North Carolina Literary and Historical Association, the North Carolina Literary Review facilitates the annual Doris Betts Fiction Prize, which awards $250 and publication in NCLR to a short story under 6,000 words. The contest will open for submissions again on September 15. NCLR is currently accepting submissions on the theme of “North Carolina Native American Literature” for its Fall, 2023 issue (guest editor: Kirstin Squint). Submissions are open through April 30 for the James Applewhite Poetry Prize, which will award $250 and publication for the winning poem.

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Press 53 has been finding and sharing remarkable voices in poetry and short fiction since October, 2005, having published more than 200 titles that have earned more than 70 awards. Press 53 has published poetry and short fiction collections by authors from 35 states, including six state poets laureate. In 2011, Press 53 established Prime Number Magazine, a free online journal of distinctive poetry and short fiction. The 2022 Press 53 Award for Poetry is open for entries through July 31, 2022, awarded annually to “an outstanding, unpublished collection of poems.” New titles include the poetry collection Bodies in Motion by Joseph Mills; The Italian Professor’s Wife by Ann Pedone; and the Dragonfly. Toad. Moon. by Mary Jane White.

Founder and publisher Kevin Morgan Watson will serve as a panelist on the Slush Pile Live! progarm at the NCWN 2022 Spring Conference.

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Scuppernong Books is the official bookseller of the NCWN 2022 Spring Conference. Scuppernong Books opened on December 21, 2013 and has been an essential part of the rebirth of downtown Greensboro. They are a general interest/literary bookstore featuring fiction and poetry along with a remarkable children’s section and a broad range of general interest titles. There’s also a coffee bar that serves snacks, beer, wine, and caffeinated products. They were a driving force behind the founding of the annual Greensboro Bound literary festival. Scuppernong Books hosts frequent and fun literary events, including readings, writing workshops, open mics, and more.

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“WDA is a 2,600 member strong community of writers from all 50 states and 43 nations…committed to bringing together the literary community to demand racial and economic justice.” Reps from their program, “Book the Vote,” will be on-hand to register voters in order to offer “civic resistance to anti-democratic maninpulations of elections.”

The NCWN 2022 Spring Conference happens Saturday, April 23, both on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and online. This is a full-day of classes and sessions on the craft and business of writing, offering courses in fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, and screenwriting.

Registration is open here.

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Meet the Spring Conference Exhibitors – Part 1 of 2

The NC Writers’ Network 2022 Spring Conference happens Saturday, April 23, on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and online. In-person attendees will have access to a scaled-down exhibit hall featuring select vendors spaced out to allow for better social distancing. Registration is open!

We’ll introduce our eight exhibitors in two separate blog posts. Without further ado…

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The Greensboro Review, a literary magazine published by The MFA in Creative Writing Program at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, has been willfully and defiantly “old school” since its founding in 1966. Back then, it appeared more or less exactly as it does today, offering readers a simple cover, no distracting graphics, and a complete and total focus on the quality of the text. Recent authors include Jim Whiteside, as well as Casey Guering, whose short story “What Consumes You,” won the Robert Watson Literary Prize in Fiction. Past contributors include Dan Albergotti, NC Literary Hall of Fame inductee and former NC Poet Laureate Fred Chapell, Philip Gerard–recipient of the 2019 NC Award for Literature, the state’s highest civilian honor–and Emilia Phillips. The Greensboro Review facilitates the annual Randall Jarrell Poetry Competition and provides on-site support for the NCWN 2022 Spring Conference.

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Based in Fayetteville, Longleaf Press “publishes poetry and prose of exceptional literary merit by both established and emerging authors.” Current projects include an anthology of “military-related poems that focus on the theme of healing” (submission deadline: June 1). The Longleaf Press Book Contest awards $1,000 and publication to a manuscript of 50-80 pages; this contest is open and will be judged by Roger Weingarten. Longleaf Press authors include Tina Barr, Joanna Catherine Scott, Crystal Simone Smith, and NC Literary Hall of Fame inductee Carole Boston Weatherford, who will give the Keynote Address at the NCWN 2022 Spring Conference.

Longleaf Press executive editor Shannon C. Ward will be a panelist on the Slush Pile Live! panel at the NCWN 2022 Spring Conference. Shannon is author of the poetry chapbook, Blood Creek. She is a recipient of the 2020 Inez Easley Educator of the Year Award from the Fayetteville-Cumberland Human Relations Commission, America’s 2016 Foley Poetry Prize, the 2016 Prize in Southern Poetry from White Oak Kitchen, and a 2013 Nazim Hikmet Poetry Prize. Her work has received generous support from Willapa Bay AiR, Yaddo, Norton Island, Brush Creek Foundation for the Arts, and the Anderson Center.

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Connecting the lives and creative work of authors to real (and imaginary) geographic locations. The mission of the North Carolina Literary Map is to highlight the literary heritage of the state by connecting the lives and creative work of authors to real (and imaginary) geographic locations. Through the development of a searchable and browseable data-driven online map, users are able to access a database, learning tools, and cultural resources, to deepen their understanding of specific authors as well as the cultural space that shaped these literary works. The NC Literary Map also offers apps for literary walking tours. For example, there are two literary walking tours for Greensboro, one for O. Henry and one for Randall Jarrell–inductees of the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame, both.

Check back soon to learn about what other exhibitors will be on-hand at the NCWN 2022 Spring Conference!

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Knightdale Student Wins NC’s Poetry Out Loud Competition

Today we’re sending out big congratulations to Gabriella Burwell of Knightdale Hight School: Gabriella won North Carolina’s 2022 Poetry Out Loud competition!

Next up? The national semi-finals, where Gabriella will compete against representatives from each of the competition’s 55 states and jurisdictions. The semi-finals happen May 1, and the nine finalists will compete on June 5. Both events will be livestreamed here.

Gabriella began the competition at the local level with her theatre teacher and Poetry Out Loud coach, Mathew Clay Raines. Gabriella won North Carolina with her recitation of Dudley Randall’s poem “Ballad of Birmingham.” (View Gabriella’s reading here.) Gabriella won $200 for taking North Carolina, and Knightdale High School received $500 toward the purchase of poetry materials.

In before-times, Gabriella also would have received an all-expenses paid trip (with chaperone) to the semi-finals in Washington, DC, but due to COVID-19 concerns, this year’s semi-finals and finals will be virtual. At the national finals, a total of $50K is awarded annually.

From the website:

Poetry Out Loud is a national arts education program that encourages the study of great poetry by offering free educational materials and a dynamic recitation competition for high school students across the country. This program helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about literary history and contemporary life. Poetry Out Loud is a partnership of the National Endowment for the Arts, Poetry Foundation, and the state and jurisdictional arts agencies.

For more information about how to compete next year, click here.

Want to organize a contest at the local level? Find helpful resources at the North Carolina Arts Council website, or on the Poetry Out Loud website, here.

And don’t forget to watch Gabriella compete on May 1!

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New Writing Workshops Coming to Winston-Salem

For two years, we’ve watched with sadness as literary events were cancelled; longtime writing groups disbanded; and others moved their regular meetings online. So, it brings no small amount of joy to see a new literary endeavor sprout in Winston-Salem.

Founded by Adam Fagin, Red Bird Writers Workshop offers intimate writing workshops and manuscript consultations for writers wherever they happen to be on their writing journey. Located at the Delurk Gallery (207 W. 6th St. in Winston-Salem), Red Bird Writers Workshop hopes to build an inclusive writing community that believes curiosity is the surest way to growth.

Two writing workshops will be offered this spring:

  • Open-Genre Workshop 1, Wednesdays, April 27 – June 8, 6:00-8:00 pm
  • Open-Genre Workshop 2, Sundays, May 1 – June 12, 4:00-6:00 pm

Open to writers of all levels. In this seven-week class, participants may submit poetry, fiction, or creative nonfiction for workshop. We will read and discuss each other’s work while receiving peer and instructor feedback, undertaking an assortment of in-class writing activities, and reading short assigned texts intended to highlight writing techniques and illuminate the writing process. This class will be tailored to the work of its participants and will explore strategies for brainstorming, writing, and revising works in every genre. The cost is $225.

Adam Fagin is the founder and lead instructor of Red Bird Writers Workshop. A teacher of writing for over a decade, Adam received his Ph.D. in creative writing from University of Denver and has taught the art of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction there, at Lighthouse Writers Workshop, University of Colorado, and Weber State University. He is the author of Furthest Ecology, which was named a Best Book by Entropy Magazine, and his work has been published widely at Poetry Daily, Boston Review, Conjunctions, Colorado Review, and many other journals. As a teacher, Adam is committed to creating a dynamic and inclusive space for writers to learn and grow as they pursue their art.

Find out more at or e-mail Adam for more info—or to register—at

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Celebrate National Poetry Month with WFDD

Poet Ashley Lumpkin reads at the NCWN 2019 Spring Conference

April is National Poetry Month, and this year, WFDD 88.5 in the Triad is offering something special: a Poetry Month Challenge!

First, sign up to receive bi-weekly poems sent directly to your e-mail inbox. These bits of inspiration alone are sure to keep us in a celebratory state of mind all month long.

Throughout April, subscribers will be invited to share their poetry with WFDD—if they feel so inspired—for the chance to be featured in the Poetry Month Collection on the WFDD website at the end of April.

This is the inaugural Poetry Month Challenge for the station. Sign-up here!

88.5 WFDD, Public Radio for the Piedmont is:

…the state’s charter NPR® member and the longest continuously broadcasting public radio station in North Carolina. WFDD is a member of the North Carolina Public Radio Association. It is a broadcast service of Wake Forest University.

In Boone, you can hear WFDD at 100.1 FM.

This year, the station is celebrating its 75th anniversary.

Visit them on the web at and on Facebook.

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